Grant was on leave for the entire week leaving me in charge of the orchard and baby-sitting his house as well, which includes a horse, a pony, a small dog, a big puppy, and 2 l0vely cats simply because they don’t bother me like the dogs did! The guys finish patching up the bird nets on both Bonehill and Okana Vineyard. It’s quite a job considering we somehow manage to tear a hole the size of a car, that we have to cut up another net to patch up the hole.

Back at the Orchard Cottage, all 9 of my roses are raped by rabbits and possibly possums!

So I put up a temporary fence to deter the rabbits. Pretty sure the pests in question are rabbits because if they were possums, they would already have damaged the very simple fence. For possums, there’s always the possum traps anyway. I now have a quite a range of lavender companions for the roses, Lavender Stoechas, Lavender Grosso, French Lavender, and Dwarf Pink English Lavender. I have also sown Lavender Dwarf Munstead and Lavender True English in the heated propagator today. Its quite hard to germinate them from seed compare to propagating via cuttings but its worth a try. I could use the Dwarf Munstead as edging for the roses patch and True English to edge the wildflowers meadow.

I bought Aloe Vera from Oderings Nursery because I read from NZ Gardener Homegrown Roses that Heather Campbell of Feilding use aloe vera as “ointment” to mend a broken standard ‘Iceberg’ rose. They could have used Bacseal, which is non-organic. So, that’s one of the uses of Aloe Vera, as a Bacseal substitute. I potted the main plant on its own while the baby offshoots that come with the plant into another pot. I have also potted my hydroponically germinated asparagus! Maybe one day I can harvest asparagus by the window sill 😉

The cloche is fully operational now, where you can see the pea straw mulch, I have planted 6 alpine red strawberry, the original wild strawberry. I have sown the rest in a mix of mesclun, carrot, dwarf pea, brussel sprouts, herbs, marigold, and alyssum. Before all that I added 60L of worm casting and peat blend, 180L of compost, and 80L of vege mix, that raised the bed by about 10cm.

As for the solanum patch, I added 60L of worm casting and peat blend, and 120L of compost. Top up with the corn stalks that I pulled out and mulch the cultivating zone with pea straw until I sow some legumes next month to over winter. However, I have sown a mix of Crimson clovers, garlic chives, and marigold around the border.

To top the fire sale of my seeds, I sown the remaining thyme on the floor of the greenhouse.

Onto my strawberry cloche project. I have decided to switch from clear polythene sheets for the top lid to mikroclima nets, the reason being added benefit of ventilation while maintaining its own micro-climate.  As for the pest protection lid, I am still debating between bird protection net or hex wire netting, cost and ease of fixing onto the lid will be the guide to judgement. In order to cut cost, I am also switching to the use of nails wherever possible. One of the most costly part of the design is the latch that will hold the top lid up. A gatehook will probably do the job, it will cost me $11.98 each and I need a pair of it. A better choice will be to use window casement stay, which cost about $29 each. Very expensive… so I look up TradeMe and manage to buy myself 6 of them for $9.67 each inclusive delivery, I am building 3 cloche. I am planting each cloche with 6 Strawberry Temptations and 6 Strawberry Seascape. Both are day neutral varieties. I have already got the Temptations from Oderings Nursery but Seascape is currently out of stock till June. That’s fine because the garden still has got a lot to do. This project will be a slow and easy one.